Most shops started season sale campaigns right after Christmas. However, due to the warm early winter, many shops – sports and clothing merchants in particular – reduced their prices even before Christmas. These are the shops whose Christmas sales were the most severely affected by the weather.

The survey conducted in December by the Finnish Commerce Federation among its members indicated that 65 percent of shop owners started season sales after Christmas this year. Approximately ten percent will launch their sale campaigns after New Year. This year, the week between Christmas and New Year has become an increasingly popular time to start discounts; in the past three years, a higher percentage of merchants waited until after New Year to launch their sale campaigns.

A little over 20 percent of the survey respondents reported that they started discount campaigns right before Christmas. Many of these respondents are sports and clothing merchants from southern Finland. Last year, the corresponding number was 12 percent. This year, the unusually warm weather had a major influence on starting discount campaigns earlier. Furthermore, one-third of merchants believe that the weather decreased Christmas sales.

However, warm weather and the lack of snow have not been problems in all of Finland. On the contrary, in northern parts of the country, the winter weather boosted Christmas sales.

“Whereas sports gear trade in southern Finland has suffered due to the warm winter, this may actually have driven up the sales of electronics and décor products. When people decide not to buy new skis, they may purchase home electronics instead,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist of the Finnish Commerce Federation.

The sales expectations for this discount season are moderate. A total of 43 percent of merchants expect their sales to remain at last year’s level, whereas 39 percent expect sales to increase. Particular expectations are placed on Russian customers, with 25 percent of merchants expecting to see more Russian tourists than last year. Two-thirds of merchants are relying on Russian customers to generate the sales increase and believe that their turnover for the early winter would decline without Russian tourists.

New Year and January are a busy season for Russian tourism, especially in the Helsinki Region. Moreover, during the peak season, Russian visitors stay in Finland for several days; the proportion of one-day trips is lower in comparison with the rest of the year, and they also spend more money per tourist.

Consumers start planning discount shopping from Christmas Day

Consumers start planning their discount purchases almost immediately after opening their Christmas gifts. Based on data provided for the Finnish Commerce Federation by Google, discount-related web searches are conducted especially actively on Boxing Day.

“This is an important signal for Finnish shops: if we don’t have our web shops and campaigns up and running already at Christmas time, foreign competitors may win Finnish consumers’ euros,” Kurjenoja points out.

Searches related to electronics are conducted almost as actively in January as in December; people are particularly interested in electronics discount campaigns. Clothing sales are a classic phenomenon for the season, but this is not reflected in online information searching in January; clothing-related searches reach their peak in November.

The Finnish Commerce Federation represents commerce - the largest sector of economic life. Commerce employs around 300,000 persons in Finland. The Federation has around 7,000 member companies and represents both retail and wholesale commerce in industry politics and labour market lobbying. www.kauppa.fi